By Chet Yarbrough
The Count of Monte Cristo
By Alexandre Dumas
Narrated by John Lee
Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870, French Autor)
Alexandre Dumas is a French Charles Dickens and a writer of “Dostoyevsky light” stories. The narrator, John Lee. magnifies “The Count of Monte Cristo” characters with an exotic voice that markedly enhances Dumas’s story.
Charles Dickens (1812-1870, English Author and soicial critic.)
Like Charles Dickens, Dumas creates interesting characters. And, like Dostoevsky, he creates emotionally driven protagonists.
Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881, Russian novelist, essayist, journalist, and philosopher.)
Dumas writes a story of revenge with twists of fate that have Dickens’ coincidences and “Dostoevsky-like” motivations.
The hero is Dante, the wrongfully accused, convicted, and secretly incarcerated prisoner. The heroine is Mercedes, the love of Dante’s life that mourns his disappearance on their wedding day.
Dante is unjustly imprisoned for being a Bonopartist based on inadvertent collusion by Danglars, Villifort, and Fernand. They all have different motives for jailing Dante.
The jealous and greedy merchant, Danglars wants to rid himself of Dante because he is a commercial rival. An ambitious, duplicitous, and sycophantic, politician, Villifort, wants to hide his family’s involvement with the Bonapartists. Fernand wants to remove Dante from his wedding to give himself an opportunity to marry Mercedes himself.
(Bonapartism is the political ideology of Napoleon Bonaparte. In government speak, it is a dictatorial executive with a weak and ineffectual legislative body, filled with sycophants.)
Luck and fate mix into Dante’s imprisonment. Dante escapes and becomes fabulously rich. Dante travels the world after his escape and searches for information about people in his life before imprisonment.
A cloak of mystery surrounds Dante as he appears in the lives of his friends and enemies. The cloak is removed at perfect moments in each episode. He endeavors to understand his friends and enemies strengths and weaknesses.
Dante rewards his friends and punishes his enemies. Plans for revenge and exposure of his enemies’ misdeeds are cleverly woven into the story. Each colluding villain is defeated by his own human weakness.
Danglars’ greed becomes his destruction. Villifort’s lies lead to madness. Fernand’s false accusation, and the loss of Mercedes’ love drive him to commit suicide.
The story is a tangled web of relationships, guilts, and crimes that are satisfyingly resolved by the end of the book. Overcoming life’s adversity and justice’s triumph are the appeal of “The Count of Monte Christo”.
Who among Dumas’s three villains in “The Count of Monte Cristo” reminds one of America’s Bonapartist President?